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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

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Where does the time go?

We are already facing mid October next week. It’s hard to believe that this weekend is (Canadian) Thanksgiving and Halloween is not far behind.

I always feel most inspired, in all areas, in the fall. Something about its drama and beauty makes me want to snuggle in and read more, create more, cook more, share more. It’s such a comfortable and comforting season. One thing I’d like to try my hand at more this fall is bread and yeasted recipes. I’ve kicked my original terror of yeast doughs (so finicky, so delicate!) and learned that they are nothing to be feared. Now that the comfort level is there, the fun begins, which is experimenting with recipes and pushing the boundaries to see what I can come up with.

These cinnamon rolls are not the reinvention of the wheel, but they do deliciously capture some flavours of fall which is what cooking seasonally is all about.

The dough is the same dough from this summer’s post on Lemon Blackberry Buns with a few minor tweaks and the addition of a large amount of apple. I used Braeburn apples because they are very apple-y and they hold their shape nicely so you get bites of apple, not just applesauce.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

For the dough:

5 C all purpose flour, divided – plus more for kneading and rolling

1 Tbsp dry yeast

½ C light brown sugar

½ C milk

½ C butter

2 tsp vanilla

½ C sour cream

4 eggs

In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the standard paddle attachment, mix 3 cups of the flour, the yeast and the brown sugar.

In a small pot on the stove, melt the butter completely. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk, vanilla. Add slowly to the flour with the mixer running slowly. Increase the speed and beat the developing dough until it is smooth and very soft. Add the sour cream and beat again until incorporated. With the mixer running at a medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully mixed in before adding the next one. Add one of the remaining cups of flour and mix. Remove the paddle and swap in the dough hook. Incorporate the final cup of flour. Mix on medium, with the dough hook, for another full minute. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it steadily for at least 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky or wet. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise for at least 2-3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

The dough is ready to proceed when it has doubled in volume. Give it a good punch to deflate it and gently knead it for a minute or so. Let it relax while you prepare the filling:

½ C butter, softened

1 C brown sugar

2 cups of fresh apple (chopped finely)

Mix together the butter and sugar.  Set aside, along with the apple.

To assemble the buns, roll out the dough on a well floured surface with a well floured rolling pin. Aim for a rectangle that is about 18 inches wide by 12 inches tall. No need to trim it neatly, just try for a general rectangular shape. Spread the whole surface with the sugar, butter mixture, leaving about an inch (along the long side) bare. Sprinkle the apple all over the buttered dough. Starting from the top of the dough, gently pull it down towards you and begin to roll it up, stretching to accommodate the fruit. Keep rolling, trying to keep the log you’re forming nice and even. Don’t worry if it is lumpy from the fruit. Roll until you reach the bare strip in front of you. Use that bare dough to pinch closed the log so the apples and butter aren’t escaping.

Cut the log into 16 even pieces and pack them, cut side up, into two well buttered 8×8 inch baking dishes. Cover and leave them to rest, about another 2 hours until they have puffed and filled the pans. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the buns for 30-40 minutes until they are bubbling and browned all over.

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